Monday, August 30, 2010

Dressing tables for little girls and a project sneak peek

I've been working on a bedroom for the young daughter of some long term clients and wanted to share a little bit of it with you. The image above is a grouping of the fabrics and inspiration ideas we're going to be incorporating.The centerpiece in the room with the Anthropologie Campaign bed, fully draped and festooned in royal fashion!

Since the bed ends are open and the little girl is only 4-1/2, I designed custom inserts for the ends, which will be removable when she no longer needs them. The inserts are going to be a teal blue and not pink as shown below.

Another highlight is to be a combination dressing table/desk. Here are a few that I was looking at:

 via DecorPad

And, finally, here is the desk that my clients have purchased from Ikea. Sweet, isn't it?

And, we're thinking of pairing with this Phillipe Starck Victoria Ghost chair in rose:

More to come as it comes together!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Historic homes, charming shops and a tragedy barely escaped in historic Newburyport

Sorry I've been so short on posts these last couple of weeks. I've been dealing with non-stop problems at my condo, including a broken water main and a resulting sink hole, an oil tank that needs to be moved and now an electrical problem. Every day, a new joy.

So, I thought it was a good day to continue with my phototour of my favorite city Newburyport, MA, where I lived for a few years. Located on the ocean, at the northern edge of Massachusetts, Newburyport is a fabulous city to live in and to visit. Founded in the 17th century (my many times great grandfather Nathaniel Merrill was an original settler), Newburyport was a thriving shipping capitol through much of the 19th century because of it's location at the mouth of the Merrimac River as it hits the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Newburyport proper is densely settled and boasts beautiful examples of America architecture from the 17th through late 19th centuries. Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian homes abound. One of the things I most loved about this city is that it didn't take itself too seriously. Houses are painted all sorts of bright and happy colors, some historically accurate and others, well, not so much. There are purple and teal blue houses mixed in with traditional brick structures. For me, it is this mix of high and low design that made the city so memorable.  There is not a lot of available land space in the city, so many buildings are painstakingly refurbished. And where there is new building, the owners take pains to create outstanding reproductions.

The yellow house above is  wonderful Federal period home. Notice in the photos how close these homes are to the road. Most houses have only a brick sidewalk for front yard. Some homes have larger side or back yards, but many, as you will see, sit cheek by jowl.

Here we see a Federal brick home followed by the classic white Greek Revival, followed by another Federal.

So many of the homes have beautiful front doors and small gardens. The houses above and below are relatively modest Greek Revival style. Modest compared to some of the large Federal and over the top Victorians. There is such an elegant soberness to the Greek Revivals, I think.

The brick house above was built in 1809-1810 (see sign below). Note the widows walk on the roof. From this vantage point, one would likely have been able to see the ships return up the Merrimac River to the harbor.

The peach house below has always been one of my favorites. It's located very near my first apartment in the city and I drove by it regularly. The building is a salt-box Colonial with three stories in the front and two in the rear. I just think the peaches and cream color palette is so beautiful.

The charming white house below was likely added onto over time, with the left half being from the colonial era, and the right sections coming later. This home is located in the more rural Newbury, which was once joined with Newburyport.

And this little charmer has been my dream house ever since I laid eyes on it.  It's next to the white house above across from a park. It's adorable in the winter, covered with snow, and in the summer, covered in ivy. I used to stalk this house mercilessly when I lived there. And I never saw signs of life. I've imagined it owned by a little old lady, but who knows.

And now the shopping portion of our tour.

If you find yourself up in the area, take a few minutes to visit Tendercrop Farm. The store features all locally grown produce, fresh and dried flowers, meats and baked goods. It's the go to place for pumpkins, Christmas trees and spring flowers. Step into the front door and you are hit with an amazing scent of fresh produce, dried flowers, herbs, spices and handmade soaps.  I am very partial to their cheddar cheese bread and fresh flowers, cut from their own fields.

One of my favorite shops in town for gifts (for others and myself!) is Wishbasket located at The Tannery in Newburyport. They have an ever changing assortment of home decorating and gift items. The image below shows a painted round ceiling panel hung in the store. Gorgeous.

Also in The Tannery is Red Bird Trading Company, which features a mix of antique, vintage and reproduction products.

This brick building below is the corporate headquarters of Bennett & Company, a lingerie firm. They have recently undergone a, extesive renovation project after a sprinkler accident caused major internal damage. The project focused on sustainable energy design and the owner expects that the cost of the rebuild will be paid for in five years in energy savings.

And here is a pretty bad photo of downtown Newburyport (yes, I was driving!). The small downtown area, Market Square,  is notable for it's beautiful and original brick buildings which are filled with shops and restaurants of all types.  The downtown area as we know it today is courtesy of a massive fire in 1811. New fire code laws resulted in these sturdy brick buildings.

This image shows State Street to the left and Merrimac Street to the right.

This image below is a postcard from 1906, looking up State Street, from Market Square.

Below is an image from the exact opposite direction as those above, looking down Water Street.

Although the town had a rich and wealthy history, by the 1950's and 1960's, the downtown Market Square area had fallen into hard times and disrepair. This was due to the new highways which made shopping in other larger cities more accessible. With Federal funds, the downtown area was slated to be completely torn down and rebuilt with newer buildings, and horror of horrors, strip malls and outlet stores. Luckily, there was a groundswell of unhappiness that these beautiful buildings and the historic nature of the town would be wiped away and at the last minute, the town changed plans and received grant money to embark on a multi-year historic preservation plan. In the end, they redeveloped the downtown into a vibrant place for both tourists and residents. And that is something I've always loved. I started out visiting as a tourist and realized that when I moved there, the "locals" spent as much time downtown as did the tourists. The town doesn't close down in winter and it's not overrun by tourists in the summer. Bravo.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

What’s Cooking in Contemporary Design: Hot Products from the 2010 Kitchen & Bath Show

Contributed by Lori Dolnick

Contemporary style was well represented at this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Chicago. Beyond each manufacturer’s desire to cover their bases between traditional, transitional and contemporary lines – I am seeing strong offerings in the modern arena. One theory… while our worlds are hectic and complex outside the home - we crave simple, classic lines inside – the uncluttered sophistication of everything in its place. It’s why white is still one of the most popular cabinet colors right now. And why storage is so vital to design. It’s not the newness of the product that defines what makes it great modern design. It’s the staying power… the “rightness” of design and quality that makes it a lasting element in the home. Here are some of the hottest contemporary finds at this year’s KBIS:


LEVOS by BLANCO is an iconic faucet design. Utterly unique – LEVOS offers zero radius edges alongside soft arching curves. The juxtaposition of hard and soft edges not only make a bold design statement in the kitchen, they also harmonize with both modern and transitional elements.

Top Knobs Ultra Contemporary

Top Knobs Ultra Contemporary Collections is a mix of cabinet hardware styles with strong Asian influences and stunning minimalist lines. Available in four finishes, Top Knobs Ultra Contemporary Collection will be available this summer. I love the free online sample program that lets you order knobs ahead of time to check finish and fit!

Novellini Cristal

Master baths seem so crowded when you dump that compulsory giant soaking tub in the corner. But I imagine that if the bathing vessel were clear – and the design beautiful – that the tub would become a focal point. Novellini Cristal offers an edgy, futuristic design that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. .

Mustang Red In2ition by Alsons® Corporation

In2ition is a 5-spray shower system (you have to say system because it’s a hand held shower head ingeniously slipped inside a stationary head that delivers a wide spa-like spray). When I saw it demonstrated – I was dog tired from a full day on the trade show floor and just wanted to climb in and get a massage spray right there. And who doesn’t like red! Even though it comes in other finishes.

Bamboo by Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens

Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens is one of the few – if only companies – I know of that offers a sleek, warm outdoor kitchen environment. Who says an outdoor kitchen has to be all stainless steel. Bamboo is green, natural and looks great outside. Get closer to nature by being kind to it. Custom or pre-finished options are available and you can design right online.

See all Lori's posts here.

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The Skirted Roundtable: The State of Shelter magazines and Congrats to Michael Boodro - new eic of Elle Decor

Join Megan, Joni and I as we chat about all the changes in the shelter magazines. Margaret Russell from Elle Decor to Architectural Digest; Stephen Drucker from House Beautiful to Town and Country; and Dara Caponigro from Domino to Veranda. And their replacements? Big shoes to fill.

Have a listen to what we think is good, and bad, about these surprising moves.

Change is good, right?


 Margaret Russell with incoming ELLE DECOR e-i-c Michael Boodro (image courtesty of Christie's Auctions)

ELLE DECOR announced today that  Michael Boodro has been named editor-in-chief. He was the Executive Editor from 2004-2006, and rejoined ELLE DECOR in 2009 from Martha Stewart Living where he was Editor-in-Chief. Previously, he was launch editor for Culture & Travel, collaborating with James Truman; an editor of the Style Section for the The New York Times Magazine; Editor-in-Chief of Garden Design Magazine and Features Editor for Vogue. Mr. Boodro has also held editorial positions at HG Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ. He is the author of Stephen Sills and James Huniford’s design book Dwellings. Mr. Boodro served for many years on the board of directors of the Housing Works Thrift Shops and is currently a board member of the Gesso Foundation. He began his career in the fine arts sector, and is a graduate of Yale University. In addition to Mr. Boodro’s promotion, Anita Sarsidi has been promoted to Design Director and Florentino Pamintuan has been elevated to Creative Director. Vicky Lowry will assume the Executive Editor title at the magazine.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bloggers Behind the Lens, V2

Last month, I started a new feature called "Bloggers Behind the Lens" to highlight some of the amazing photography coming from the blogs. And so, I hope you enjoy this month's installment!

Gina Garner of Art and Alphalfa not only creates the most beautiful ceramic works, she takes beautiful photos as well!
Vicki Archer from French Essence always inspires with her lifestyle blog filled with gorgeous photography of La Belle France!

La Tartine Gourmonde is written by a foodie and photostylist, but the personal images are lovely as well.

I loved Lisa's "Normal Rockwellian" post about summer days and baseball and thought this image realy was quite striking!

Thanks ladies for such beautiful work to inspire us all!

And here is one of my favorite pics that I took this month:

Newburyport, MA

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